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 Outrage as shells hit UN building

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Join date : 2009-01-05

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PostSubject: Outrage as shells hit UN building   Outrage as shells hit UN building Icon_minitimeThu Jan 15, 2009 5:56 am

Outrage as shells hit UN building
15/01/2009 14:06 - (SA)

Gaza - A central United Nations compound in the Gaza Strip has been hit by white phosphorus shells in the fighting between Hamas and the Israeli military Thursday, UN officials said.

Several hundred Palestinians were estimated to be inside the building.

The attack drew sharp condemnation from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who was in Tel Aviv talking with Israeli officials on a ceasefire for the enclave.

"I conveyed my strong protest and outrage to the defence minister and the foreign minister and demanded a full investigation," said Ban, adding that "Defence Minister Barak said to me it was a grave mistake."

The central warehouse in the compound was ablaze and fuel supplies were not safe from the fire, officials said. The compound houses large fuel reserves to allow humanitarian agencies to carry out their work.

"White phosphorus cannot be put out with water, but we do not have any sand in the compound," said Chris Gunness, a spokesperson for UNRWA, the aid agency for Palestinian refugees.

The building was clearly marked with UN flags.

The UN has suspended all work in the area.

Some 700 Palestinians were seeking refuge inside the compound when it was hit, and the UN has been unable to evacuate them, with one official adding that "there is nowhere safe to go".

Adnan Abu Hasna, also with UNRWA, denied there was any militant activity inside the compound, which serves as the headquarters for several key UN groups.

Also, the al-Quds hospital in the Tel al-Hawa neighbourhood sustained serious damage in the early afternoon, as was a main building of the Palestinian Red Crescent.

A building housing several central media outlets, including the Reuters news agency, was also hit, and two journalists were said to be seriously wounded. Another press building was also hit.

"These are buildings housing journalists working for international news agencies and must not be targeted," The Foreign Press Association in Tel Aviv said, adding that it was "alarmed".

The buildings were known to the military to house press, the FPA said.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the incidents.

At least seven Palestinian medics have been killed, three ambulances destroyed and other medical facilities, including a children's hospital, damaged since the Israeli military began its Operation Cast Lead on December 27.

Several Palestinian journalists have also been killed and injured in the fighting.

Last week the Israeli military held talks with the UN during which it committed its troops to preserving the neutrality of the UN and the safety of the staff.

- DPA,,2-10-1462_2453723,00.html
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